Friday, July 06, 2018

Confused and Desperate Rescue Attempts : Whistling in the Dark

"A former SEAL who volunteered to help died last night around 2am."
"His job was to deliver oxygen. He did not have enough on his way back."
Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Boonyaluck 

"We are no longer digging -- we will find a way that can give us access [without digging] direct to the area where the boys are."
"We are drawing our jungle trekking resources together. There are about 20 to 30 teams."
"Now we are going to walk around that area to search every inch, [to see if] there are chimneys or holes where we can climb down, and we may adjust our plan."
"In the previous days we were fighting with time. And now we are working against water."
"We are draining out as much as our capacity allows. But water continues to flow in, no matter how many holes have been blocked, water still continues to pour in."
"If we must evacuate [the boys] out before they are ready due to the rain ... we will do so, but it will be the very last resort to do so."
"We [are] target[ing] the water in the third chamber to reduce to the point that no diving equipment is needed, like to the waistline, so one can wear just life jackets and walk out."
"I confirm here again that they are in good health and they are smiling and playing around."
Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn
Still from video; rescuers preparing to evacuate trapped boys and coach
The threat of heavy rains continuing once again has upset original plans and forced rescuers to abandon the hope that if all else fails, the trapped boys and their coach could remain in place on their muddy, limited-space shelf above the still-surging flood waters for as long as it takes for the flooding to cease and the waters to be reduced to manageable levels. Emergency alternate preparations for extracting the twelve boys and their coach through the same cave-diving manoeuvres as the expert divers took to find them have also suffered a setback with second thought.

Plans A, B, C and D are all falling by the wayside of practical realities and the huge possibilities of matters going awry. That a chute might be found on the mountainside to provide a short route up and out seems to have gained little hope, the search fruitless. Concerns over somehow managing to guide the trapped boys taking the underwater route through the difficult and complicated tunnels amid warning that the route is dangerous not only for novices but for experts was brought to reality with the death of a former SEAL who had volunteered his services.

Like mountaineers clambering up Mount Everest, depending on supplemental oxygen to see them through the steepest, highest portion of the ascent to the summit, then finding themselves without sufficient oxygen to descend and dying from hypoxia, the volunteer diver, tasked to ferry food to the boys found himself with insufficient oxygen to see himself through the last part of his three-hour journey back out and he died in the attempt.
Shows some of the members of a soccer team in a section of Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park. Picture: Getty
Some of the members of a soccer team in a section of Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

The massive threat to human survival represented by this rescue operation that has captured the attention and hopes of the world community, bringing offers of assistance from international experts,  professional cave divers, and technology experts, hang over the tenuous choices and the progress of temporary operations to bring the twelve boys and their coach back to health after their starvation ordeal of ten days before discovery, trapped within the ten-kilometre-long cave system.

The high-pressure pumps used to drain water from the cave have barely seemed to make any difference as water continues to pour in from other areas. Thai navy SEALs remain with the boys to render first aid and teach them swimming and diving lessons hoping to keep their spirits high while their bodies slowly mend. But the boys are emaciated and it will take time before they recover strength and energy, both of which would be required to embark on a three-hour precarious diving expedition to safety.

"The water is still too rough for the boys now. We are focusing on setting up ropes in each section of the cave to help them", said Tiraya Jaikaew, head of a team of volunteer rescue divers working with the Thai navy. According to Thai authorities the boys' lives are not to be endangered by reckless decision-making and the extraction will commence only when it is "100 percent safe". A promise that, under the circumstances, seems as reliable as instructing nature to shut off her water faucets.

Thai soldiers and volunteers are seen at the entrance of Tham Luang cave.
Thai soldiers and volunteers are seen at the entrance of Tham Luang cave.   Source:AFP

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